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Hog Round Marketing, Seed Quality, and Government Policy: Institutional Change in U.S. Cotton Production, 1920-1960

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  • Alan L. Olmstead
  • Paul W. Rhode

Abstract

Between 1928 and 1960 U.S. cotton production witnessed a revolution with average yields roughly tripling while the quality of the crop increased significantly. This paper analyzes the key institutional and scientific developments that facilitated the revolution in biological technologies, pointing to the importance of two government programs -- the one-variety community movement and the Smith-Doxey Act -- as catalysts for change. The story displays two phenomena of interest in light of the recent literature: 1. an important real-world example of the workings of Akerlof's lemons model and 2. a case where inventors, during an early phase of the product cycle, actually encouraged consumers to copy and disseminate their intellectual property.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9612.

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Date of creation: Apr 2003
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Publication status: published as Olmstead, Alan L. and Paul W. Rhode. "Hog-Round Marketing, Seed Quality, And Government Policy: Institutional Change In U.S. Cotton Production, 1920-1960," Journal of Economic History, 2003, v63(2,Jun), 447-488.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9612

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  1. Whatley, Warren C., 1983. "Labor for the Picking: the New Deal in the South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(04), pages 905-929, December.
  2. Constantine, John H & Alston, Julian M & Smith, Vincent H, 1994. "Economic Impacts of the California One-Variety Cotton Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 951-74, October.
  3. Simpson, D.M., 1954. "Natural Cross-Pollination in Cotton," Technical Bulletins, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service 156738, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  4. Howell, L. D. & Watson, Leonard J., 1939. "Cotton Prices in Relation to Cotton Classification Service and to Quality Improvement," Technical Bulletins, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service 168475, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  5. Simpson, D.M., 1954. "Natural Cross-Pollination in Cotton," Technical Bulletins, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service 156667, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  6. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  7. Musoke, Moses S. & Olmstead, Alan L., 1982. "The Rise of the Cotton Industry in California: A Comparative Perspective," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(02), pages 385-412, June.
  8. Bulow, Jeremy I, 1982. "Durable-Goods Monopolists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 314-32, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Isengildina-Massa, Olga & MacDonald, Stephen, 2009. "U.S. Cotton Prices and the World Cotton Market; Forecasting and Structural Change," Economic Research Report, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service 55950, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  2. MacDonald, Stephen & Naik, Gopal & Landes, Rip, 2010. "Markets, Institutions, and the Quality of Agricultural Products: Cotton Quality in India," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 61854, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  3. McQuade, Timothy & Salant, Stephen W. & Winfree, Jason, 2009. "Markets with untraceable goods of unknown quality: a market failure exacerbated by globalization," MPRA Paper 21874, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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